Pitch Lab teams up with Robert Half to help the world's largest specialized staffing firm be more confident, engaging presenters!
“Who knows what the number one fear of the average American is?” Jay Mays asked the room at large. “I’ll give you a hint, the number two fear is Death.” We took a few guesses, including spiders, heights, and even in-laws to a few chuckles.
“The number one fear is public speaking!” He revealed. “According to Jerry Seinfeld, if you're the average American and you go to a funeral, you'd rather be in the casket than give the eulogy.”
Whether speaking to board-room of peers or pitching services to a prospective client, public speaking can be a challenge even for the most seasoned sales professional.
At Robert Half we are constantly working to find the best talent for our clients and the perfect job for the candidates we represent. Making the perfect hire the first time around is critically important, so the ability to present our services and advocate for our candidates is essential in our day to day work.
That’s why we invited Pitch Lab to come work with our team at Robert Half to talk about how to become more engaging speakers using principles of stand-up and improv comedy.
As a 20 year sales veteran and stand-up comedy producer, Jay Mays brings together what may seem to be very different worlds to help teams have fun while becoming more effective speakers. Alongside Daniel Reskin (named Best Comedian in Miami), they took us through a 2-hour workshop on how to bring our presentation skills to the next level.
The workshop started with a round of Comedy Karaoke, where participants took turns stating their public speaking goals then delivering one-liners from comedy legends including Steven Wright, Demetri Martin and Mitch Hedberg. After going around the circle and much applause, they asked the participants how they felt on stage.
“I felt like I was going to forget my line” or “I was nervous” were common responses. “That’s okay!” Jay told us. “The goal is not to kill the butterflies in your stomach, you want to get them to fly in formation.”
We learned how the feeling of nervousness is much closer to excitement than calm. Rather than making the feeling go away, we want to re-frame how we think about those feelings in the first place.
Jay and Daniel drew many examples of how the great comedians were so engaging. From Chris Rock's famous use of repetition and stage command to Robin Williams vocal inflection, we focused on actionable tips and tricks to hold a room’s attention.
We spoke as well about how natural pauses can feel so awkward on stage, but that we can actually be much more effective by embracing silence and using it to illustrate a point. Just holding a pause for a beat longer can be a great way of getting people’s attention.
“The whole object of comedy is to be yourself. The closer to that you get, the funnier you will be.”
A major topic was the importance of authenticity when communicating to an audience. By telling more personal or emotional stories, we give the audience a glimpse into who we are. We can build trust by allowing ourselves to be vulnerable.
Similarly, we discussed how powerful it can be to simply say “I don’t know” to a candidate or customer. That kind of honesty both shows confidence and builds credibility.
From there, we explored how to think on our feet with improv games and exercises. A handful of participants went up in front of the audience to tell a “one word story,” where we were challenged to create a cohesive story by taking turns adding a single word at a time.
Another exercise brought partners together to imitate the body language and vocal mannerisms of the other. Finally, members of our team did a comedic entrepreneurial pitch on the virtues of Transportation Llamas to tie the afternoon together.
Jay and Daniel left our team not only with valuable takeaways on how to increase our engagement and bring greater value to our clients, but also the tools to continue learning in our own community. From open mic nights to improv comedy groups (and future Pitch Lab Workshops!), there are no lack of opportunities in Denver to practice mastering the pitch.
We left for the afternoon with plenty of laughs under our belts and excited to apply what we learned in our work here at Robert Half.
"Many thanks to Pitch Lab for their awesome work! Our workshop was entertaining, engaging and educational. I highly recommend them for any team looking to improve their public speaking and pitching skills!"
- Ian Maxwell, Lead Recruiter @ Robert Half Technology
Want to learn more about how Pitch Lab can help your team be more confident and engaging speakers? Let's chat!